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Taking Christmas Lessons Into the New Year, as Word-Made-Flesh

Incarnated lessons continue into this new year for me. Yes, indeed, our bodies remind us of our needs, and overcome our mind control when we need them to. Such was the lesson I learned on Christmas Day, written about here a week ago. But the lessons of incarnation are much bigger than that. Jesus was God in human form, but He was the Word. He was the Word that created the world and is the Word that still recreates it; He was and is the Word that heals people's bodies and minds miraculously. Words have power and are incarnated in many ways. We are His words in so much of what we do, and we know the deep conviction we feel when our words do not bring life.

I am reminded of these complexities as I do a teaching assignment on learning styles and multiple intelligences. I remember the ratio of communication from former classes in counselling - that the verbal component of communication is only 7%: the rest is made up of body language, context...all the non verbal stuff. I am excited that one of my Christmas gifts is a subscription to Scientific American Mind, which can keep me up to date in a popular sort of way with brain research. An area of fascination for me is EMDR, a form of trauma therapy using bilateral brain stimulation that helps to release traumatized emotion trapped in the amygdala,a small mass in each brain hemisphere deeply connected with memory and visual learning. Our bodies and minds are so complex, as well as the interaction between them. Would that they were as simple as the computerized system on my car that tells the mechanics which little part needs to be replaced or repaired.(and at such cost!!)Yet how wonderful it is that our complexity is so often overruled by God's simplicity, His healing and overcoming words.

My nephew's gift to each of us this Christmas was his words: not the oft repeated phrases of our Christmas greetings, but words specific to each of us, embellished with drawings and poems well chosen. I felt understood, cherished, and challenged. My daughters and niece have often written such insightful penetrating words, gifts of time and themselves in unforgettable ways. Others too, family, friends, mentors, acquaintances, strangers - I am touched by their words of affirmation and blessing, and they by mine. My daughter's photo story book about our life in Uganda (described in last week's post) was a word made flesh, with power to bless me, even as they disturbed me, with tears. I am sure those tears were not just grief, but joy in her creation, joy in our life there, joy in this reconnection.

My sister shared with me from her monthly digest of meditations a very insightful article on these aspects of incarnation. I share some of them here with you now:

Spend a few moments with the central image of the (Christmas) story: a 'word taking flesh'. How does your own word take flesh? It begins in your mind, heart and soul, but takes concrete form 'in flesh'. Sometimes it takes flesh in language, sometimes in gesture, sometimes in a facial expression, perhaps even in a work of art.

A word or an idea cannot simply remain in our minds and hearts and expect another to receive it. To effect or create anything, it needs to be expressed. It can't do anything if it's bottled up. It has to come out somehow. A clenched fist is a word made flesh. A smile is a word made flesh. A spoken word is an idea, a concept or a feeling made flesh. A blueprint for a building or a work of art is a word made flesh.[...]

Jesus as Word-made-flesh does not come to rescue God's people from a dark and dangerous world, but to embrace that very world and to teach us how to embrace it in His spirit, to find abundant life in its abundant possibilities. [...]

It is the Word-made-flesh, Jesus born on Christmas Day, who is grace upon grace and the best and fullest sign of our own possibilities as words made flesh in our own right - for we are created in the image and likeness of God. In the very person of Jesus, God reveals humankind's highest and most glorious possibilities, and invites us to discover our highest potential and destiny in Jesus.

Adapted from: Corbin Eddy's Who Knows the Shape of God? Homilies and Reflections for Year B (Ottawa: Novalis,2002) pp. 37-41

May we, as we go forward into a new year filled with the lessons from the Christmas season, be empowered with a greater sense of God's creative power at work within us and others, through our words and actions, through every way in which we show and experience the Word-made-flesh.

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us; to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3: 20-21
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